Game Recap: Cardinals 2, Cubs 1 -- So Close
Yesterday's one-run loss got me thinking. How many 1-run losses have the Cubs had this year where their opponents won by scoring, say, 5 runs or less in a game? (I'm using 5 as my number because most good teams will average slightly more than 5 runs per.)
The answer is 17, and of those 17 games only 2 actually came to the final score of 5-4. All others were actually games in which their opponents scored 4 runs or less. But remember -- these aren't all the times the Cubs lost to teams they held to 5 runs or less. The number 17 represents all the times they lost by 1 run, like they did yesterday.
In other words, with a half-competent offense, it's probably safe to bet that the Cubs could have won some of those games. Imagine if they'd even only won 10 of them, right now Chicago would be 85-62, right in the thick of it. And that's still assuming they would never have won any of the other games where their bats simply puttered and died. Of course, it's all spilled milk.
During yesterday's GameCast I wrote about the bad luck of Ryan Dempster, but ultimately surmised that he's been good enough against the Cardinals to win "assuming the pansy-ass Cubs offense can figure out how to hit Carpenter."
Sadly, they didn't. Dempster and Carpenter both pitched 8 innings, both allowed 8 hits, with Ryan striking out more, walking less, but unfortunately continuing in his bad habit of surrendering just a few too many homeruns in '09 -- this one to Brendan Ryan, who apparently has Dempster figured out as he collected 2 of the Cardinals' 8 hits.
It would have been another ridiculous Cubs shut-out had Jeff Baker not evened the score in the 9th with a sacrifice fly, but Carlos Marmol proved his unreliability again in the 9th by giving up 3 hits and getting only 1 out before St. Louis closed the door on the game thanks again to Brendan Ryan who singled home Mark "Why'd It Have to Again Be" DeRosa.
The Cubs all told managed 10 hits and 2 walks, failing to capitalize on 17 opportunities to drive in runs. I don't know how a manager teaches "timely" hitting -- in fact I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be something where "clutch" is an overrated, made-up statistic -- but the Cubs may need to figure something out.
Besides, much as LaTroy Hawkins taught us that good relievers sometimes cannot close, players like Corey Patterson and Sammy Sosa (particularly the 2004 versions) taught us that if clutch is an illusory statistic, then "anti-clutch" is as real as gravity. The Cubs have had there fair share in that category this year, particularly with guys like Milton Bradley.
It's true that the real idiots out there will try to argue that Milton's been great and just hasn't had as many chances to drive in runs, but the reality of it is that he's been pathetic with runners in scoring position. But we'll save that for a Monday or Tuesday article.